Andrés Souto Vilaros, Architecture, Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholar 2015 – 2017
Andrés has a BA in Architecture and Urbanism from The Ibero-American University, Mexico City. For the past four years he has maintained his own architecture practice, working on over 40 projects ranging from high-end residential to office and interior design.
Andrés is an architect determined to foster design to generate a positive impact not only on the individual, but on the wider surrounding community. As a cultural entrepreneur, he has first hand knowledge of how design can address issues of gentrification, insecurity and inequity in his home country.
Ultimately, Andrés aims to practice innovative design and architecture with social responsibility in Mexico.
In Conversation with Andrés
Q: Can you describe your sources of inspiration?
A: I am inspired by architecture made outside the boundaries of official culture; particularly in the self-built construction of the unregulated settlements of Mexico City. My work finds inspiration in architecture made without architects and I’m interested in extracting symbolic meaning from the elements that define the aesthetic qualities of these constructions.
Q: Mexico is diverse in its architecture…
A: Indeed. Mexico City is a rich and energetic place. It is a visually stimulating city and one can draw inspiration from infinite places. All of the city’s characteristics (positive or negative) can become a source of inspiration. My creative process is directly influenced by the pursuit of making sense of such a rich and complex environment.
The work of the architect has changed dramatically over the years. Architects can no longer wait for a commission from a client. We are at a stage where we have to find our own potential projects and find the means necessary to make them a reality.
Q: Can you talk briefly about your work? Is there a theme that you focus on or do you experiment across subjects?
A: I have been closely studying the self-built tiny chapels found across Mexico City. These very particular constructions are not only beautiful examples of the way in which popular culture interprets and appropriates official architecture, but are also charged with symbolic meaning of the situation in which a particular group of people in Mexico City live. My work tries to present ways in which architectural investigation can help us read and understand the city as well as the possibility of finding a kind of architecture that can reduce cultural barriers.
Q: How has the RCA MA degree helped you develop your artistic practice? Are there any particular mediums that you are excited to work with in the coming year?
A: The RCA MA has enabled me to explore architectural practice in experimental ways and has helped me find my own voice in the creative and design processes. It allowed me to explore sculpture as a means for presenting my ideas, research and investigation. It has also opened the doors to pursue a more research led art and architecture practice.
Q: Describe your experience as a scholar…
A: It has dramatically opened up my network worldwide and has also helped me to see what other amazingly talented people are doing in other places around the world. Working with other departments have also made my whole RCA experience a complete one. All the scholars are doing amazing and super-varied work which is very inspiring.
Being an Abraaj-RCA scholar is already opening up a vast range of opportunities for my future career. The prestige that comes from belonging to such community has led me to gain trust with both my peers and potential future clients.